The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych

Front Cover
Macmillan, Mar 26, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 306 pages

The first biography of the eccentric pitcher, rookie All-Star starter, 70s pop icon, and first athlete on the cover of Rolling Stone


For those who remember him, Mark Fidrych is still that player who brings a smile to your face, the irresistibly likable pitcher whose sudden rise brightened the star-spangled season of 1976 and reminded us of the pure joy of the game.

Lanky, mop-topped, and nicknamed for his resemblance to Big Bird on Sesame Street, Fidrych exploded onto the national stage during the Bicentennial summer as a rookie with the Detroit Tigers. He won over fans nationwide with his wildly endearing antics such as talking to the ball---and throwing back the ones that "had hits in them"; getting down on his knees to "manicure" the mound of any cleat marks; and shaking hands with just about everyone from teammates to groundskeepers to cops during and after games. Female fans tried to obtain locks of his hair from his barber and even named babies after him.

But The Bird was no mere sideshow. The non-roster invitee to spring training that year quickly emerged as one of the best pitchers in the game. Meanwhile, his boyish enthusiasm, his famously modest lifestyle, and his refusal to sign with an agent during the days of labor disputes and free agency made him such a breath of fresh air for fans that not only did attendance in Detroit increase---by tens of thousands---for games he pitched, opposing teams would specifically ask the Tigers to shuffle their rotation so Fidrych would pitch in their cities, too. A rare player who transcended pop culture, Fidrych was named starting pitcher in the All-Star Game as a rookie (the first of his two All-Star nods) and became the first athlete to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Baseball researcher Doug Wilson delivers the first biography of this once-in-a-lifetime player. Through extensive interviews and meticulous research, the author recounts Fidrych's meteoric rise from Northborough, Massachusetts, to the big leagues, his heartbreaking fall after a torn knee ligament and then rotator cuff, his comeback attempts with the Tigers and in the Red Sox system, and one unforgettable night when The Bird pitched a swan song for the Pawtucket Red Sox against future star Dave Righetti in a game that remains part of local folklore. Finally, Wilson captures Fidrych's post-baseball life and his roles in the community, tragically culminating with his death in a freak accident in 2009.



The Bird gives readers a long-overdue look into the life of a player whom baseball had never seen before---and has never seen since.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JNSelko - LibraryThing

An okay book about a marvelous subject whose personality and story shines through its pages. Baseball could sure use another Bird- kinda the anti-A-roid. Recommended for the sheer joy of Fydrich. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - velopunk - LibraryThing

What a great book. If you lived in Michigan in 1976 you can never forget the Bird. Today his injured rotator cuff could be easily repaired. I found myself in tears at the end of the book. Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2013)

DOUG WILSON is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and author of Fred Hutchinson and the 1964 Cincinnati Reds. An ophthalmologist by day, Wilson has been a lifelong baseball fanatic. He played baseball through college; however, his grade point average was higher than his batting average and he was forced to go to medical school to make a living. He and his wife, Kathy, have three children and live in Columbus, Indiana.

Bibliographic information